Thursday, 27 May 2010 developments

Back in April Mark and I went to the University of Lincoln to chat to Joss Winn about our Tagginganna project, and more specifically about ('a WordPress plugin that offers paragraph-level commenting in the margins of a text). It was really useful to hear from Joss some background to, including:
  • how The Institute for the Future of the Book kicked things off ('a small think-and-do tank investigating the evolution of intellectual discourse as it shifts from printed pages to networked screens' - isn't 'think-and-do tank' a brilliant term)
  • how Commentpress then developed ('an open source theme and plugin for the WordPress blogging engine that allows readers to comment paragraph by paragraph in the margins of a text')
  • how Joss and Tony Hirst set up Write to Reply using Commentpress to allow people to comment on public reports
  • how if:book developed out of Institute of the Future of the Book using Commentpress
  • how Eddie Tejeda, who has been pivotal in the software developments for all of the above then wrote
  • and how Cornell Univeristy and the New York Public Library are using in some fascinating projects (those links are to the projects not the institutions)
In addition to finding out more background to the other aim of our meeting with Joss was to discover how likely it was that we could influence the development of to make it more suitable for the the purpose for which we are wanting to use it (see Tagginganna progress). The developments we need are the ability for readers to tag comments and search comments, and the option for administrators to choose a layered table of contents (to allow for more 'chapters'). Joss thought all these would be things that would be useful to the evolution of more generally so said that Eddie would probably be willing to develop them (and clearly the best placed to do so). And as it has taken so long to recruit a Research Assistant to the project (it still hasn't happened yet) we have money in our project budget we can redirect to opensource software development rather than spending the majority on a Research Assistant.

So on Monday I had a Skype call to San Francisco with Eddie and explained our requirements and he was very positive. They'll be a major upgrade of in the next couple of weeks, after which we can start work on the detail. And by which time we will also have some exciting news regarding the Research Assistant. In fact, we hope to have that by Monday...

It's going to work after all.


  1. Just testing Backtype for you. Let me know how it goes, I'm interested.

  2. Seems to work ok. Doesn't look v different to default WP comments. I'll check a v nested on to see what it looks like